|Wednesday, 20 November 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 2, No. 102, 98-05-29
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 2, No. 102, 29 May 1998
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 RUSSIA CONDEMNS ABKHAZ STATE OF EMERGENCYIn a statement issued on 28 May, the Russian Foreign Ministry called on the Abkhaz to comply with the 25 May cease-fire protocol, Interfax reported. The statement condemned President Vladislav Ardzinba's 28 May decision to impose a state of emergency on Gali and parts of two adjoining raions, terming it an attempt to prevent the return to their homes of ethnic Georgians who fled during the fighting. Such restrictions are "blatantly inconsistent with international standards" and with the repatriation agreement signed by Abkhaz, Georgian, Russian, and UN representatives in April 1994, the Russian statement concluded, adding that the repatriation of fugitives is essential to restoring peace in the region. LF
 UN, OSCE, TURKEY EXPRESS CONCERN OVER ABKHAZ FIGHTINGThe UN Security Council issued a statement on 28 May registering "grave concern" at the recent hostilities in Abkhazia and the resulting loss of life, Reuters reported. It called on Secretary-General Kofi Annan to secure the support of all sides for deploying additional UN troops to protect the unarmed UN Observer Mission in western Georgia. OSCE Chairman-in-Office Bronislaw Geremek likewise expressed concern over the deteriorating situation in Gali Raion, saying it "seriously threatens UN-led efforts to achieve an overall solution of the conflict and poses a danger to the security of other regions of the Caucasus." The Turkish Foreign Ministry affirmed Ankara's support for steps to resolve the Abkhaz conflict "through peaceful means, [preserving] Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity." Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze canceled a planned visit to Turkey on 28 May because of the Abkhaz crisis, Caucasus Press reported. LF
 GEORGIA, ABKHAZ WEIGH PEACEKEEPING OPTIONSGeorgian presidential press spokesman Vakhtang Abashidze said on 28 May that Tbilisi is hoping the UN will agree to launch a peace-enforcing operation in Abkhazia, Interfax reported. Shevardnadze had proposed such a Bosnia-style intervention earlier this year before the recent fighting erupted (see "End Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 January 1998). But Ardzinba signaled he will reject such a proposal, which he told Interfax would "trigger a new blood bath that will spill over the borders of the region." He suggested that if such a peace-enforcing operation is launched it should be directed against Georgia, which he called the aggressor in the conflict. LF
 GEORGIAN OPPOSITION BLAMES SHEVARDNADZE FOR DEFEATSeveral Georgian opposition parties and the Coordinating Council of Political Organizations of Abkhazia, which represents ethnic Georgian displaced persons from the region, have all condemned the Georgian leadership's handling of the past week's fighting, specifically its failure to provide military support to the Georgian guerrillas, according to Caucasus Press. Nationalist Party leader Zaza Vashakmadze and Union of Traditionalists of Georgia Chairman Akaki Asatiani both called for Shevardnadze's resignation. Asatiani and Vakhtang Bochorishvili, the chairman of the Konstantine Gamsakhurdia Society, have identified Russia as "the winner in this game." LF
 ARMENIAN PRESIDENT STRESSES NEED FOR STRONG ARMYIn a radio address to the nation on 28 May to mark the 80th anniversary of the First Armenian Republic, President Robert Kocharian said contemporary Armenia must have a "strong state structure" and "galloping economic growth." "We are obliged to become the best organized state in the region," Kocharian said. "We are simply doomed to have a powerful army, without which the balance of forces in our complicated and unstable region will be disrupted." Also on 28 May, "Hayastani Hanrapetutyun" quoted Murad Petrosian, chairman of the Defense and Security Committee of the Nagorno- Karabakh parliament, as advocating that Prime Minister Leonard Petrosian should resign to make way for "new people" who are "clever and creative organizers" such as Defense Minister Samvel Babayan. LF
 ARRESTS IN ARMENIAN CORRUPTION SCANDALOfficials from the Prosecutor-General's Office said on 27 May that several top managers at the newly privatized ArmenTel telecommunications company have been arrested on charges of taking bribes, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. They are to be detained pending an investigation into the company's operations. Former Communications Minister Grigor Poghpatian has already been interrogated by the office in connection with the case, according to Armenian media reports. Greece's OTE acquired 90 percent of ArmenTel's stock in late 1997 in a deal worth some $500 million. The Armenian government retained the remaining 10 percent stake. LF
 ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER IN TASHKENTReturning from China to Israel on 28 May, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stopped in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, according to Interfax and Jerusalem Television Channel 2. Netanyahu met with Uzbek President Islam Karimov and Prime Minister Utkir Sultanov to discuss regional issues, particularly the possible acquisition of nuclear arms by Iran. Netanyahu extended an invitation to Karimov to visit Israel, which the Uzbek leader accepted. Interfax reported there are 25,000 Jews currently living in Uzbekistan, down from the 145,000 recorded in the 1989 census, and that 10 new synagogues have been built since Uzbekistan gained independence in 1991. BP
 NAZARBAYEV LAUDS SOUTH KOREAN INVESTMENTAt a ceremony opening the LG Electronics Plant in Almaty, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev praised South Korea for being the biggest direct foreign investor in Kazakhstan, Interfax reported. The plant will manufacture up to 300,000 televisions annually and employ more than 1,000 local workers. Nazarbayev noted that South Korean direct investment now totals $750 million. BP
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 NATO ADOPTS KOSOVA PACKAGEForeign ministers of the 16 countries belonging to the Atlantic alliance agreed in Luxembourg on 28 May to stage major land and air maneuvers in Albania in August and to expand exercises already slated for September in Macedonia. In June, NATO will open a Partnership for Peace office in Tirana and training centers in Macedonia, while warships will call at Durres in July. The ministers asked NATO experts to prepare plans for stationing troops in Albania and Macedonia should the conflict in Kosova escalate. The ministers agreed to recommend that the UN extend the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in Macedonia by six months and increase the force from 800 to "at least 1,050" troops. German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe said that Bonn will provide Macedonia with 50 BRT-70 tanks from the former East German army, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. PM
 SOLANA SAYS NO OPTION RULED OUTNATO Secretary- General Javier Solana said in Luxembourg on 28 May that the alliance excludes no option for dealing with the Kosova crisis and that everything depends on events in the province. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel commented that his main worry is that the conflict could cause thousands of Kosovars to seek asylum in Germany. He added that Kosova is unlikely to become "another Bosnia" because in the province only one side, namely the Serbs, is heavily armed, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said NATO does not exclude a joint action with Russia in the region. Alliance spokesmen noted that Moscow has offered troops for possible missions in Macedonia and Albania, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov said that the UN will have to approve any stationing of foreign troops in the region. PM
 SERBIAN GOVERNMENT HAILS POLICEDeputy Prime Minister Tomislav Nikolic said in Belgrade on 28 May that the government fully approves of the work of the paramilitary special police forces in Kosova and will not reduce their strength. In Kosova, Serbian and Albanian sources reported intense fighting in the Decan region. Both sides reported deaths in various parts of the province, but no independent confirmation is available. The conflict has taken at least 210 lives to date, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported on 29 May. In Washington, shadow-state Prime Minister Bujar Bukoshi said that Kosova is "already in the first phase of a war." And in Jube, Albania, President Rexhep Meidani watched military exercises. He told artillery gunners to keep their equipment in good shape and be prepared to use it. In a statement in Tirana the next day, Meidani praised the NATO package on Kosova as "serious." PM
 BULATOVIC NOT TO ACCEPT ELECTION RESULTS?Yugoslav Prime Minister and former Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic said in Podgorica on 28 May that his Socialist People's Party will not recognize the results of the 31 May parliamentary vote if 34,000 out of 457, 000 people listed on the election rolls are allowed to cast their ballots. Bulatovic charged that the 34,000 have no registration number and that poll-watchers from his party will challenge them if they try to vote. The election pits supporters of Bulatovic, who is an ally of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, against backers of reformist Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic. PM
 PEACEKEEPERS ARREST WAR CRIMINALBritish SFOR troops in Banja Luka arrested Milojica Kos, the former commander of the Bosnian Serb concentration camp at Omarska, on 28 May. The Hague-based war crimes tribunal has indicted Kos for atrocities committed against Muslim and Croatian civilians at the camp between May and August 1992. Elsewhere, Nordic and Polish peacekeepers found and removed 3 tons of illegal weapons in the Ozren pocket area near Doboj. The peacekeepers confiscated 12 tons of illegal arms in the same area last month. PM
 DOCTOR SAYS TUDJMAN IS 'CURED'Andrija Hebrang, who is the head of President Franjo Tudjman's medical team as well as a cabinet minister, said that "at this moment, we consider [the president] a cured man," "Vecernji list" reported on 29 May. Hebrang added that neither he nor anyone else is Tudjman's designated successor because, "we do not have a monarchy in which the ruler determines his successor. We have a democratic system in which each party selects its own presidential candidate." Tudjman underwent cancer treatment in the U.S. in 1996 and has since limited his public appearances. Politicians of his governing Croatian Democratic Community have been fighting over the succession for some months. PM
 SLOVENIA TO JOIN EU BY 2003?Slovenian President Milan Kucan said in Bonn on 28 May that he believes his country will join the EU by 2003. He stressed that joining the EU and NATO are still top priorities for Ljubljana. Kucan noted that relations between the government and the Roman Catholic Church remain strained. The two sides differ in their interpretations of the constitution's definition of the role of the Church in public life. Kucan said key differences are over the restoration of Church property confiscated by the Communists, religious instruction in the schools, and the possible return of the Church to its pre-communist role as a key player in politics. The president noted that the government insists on the separation of Church and state, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. PM
 NANO, PRODI OPEN KEY TRADE FAIRPrime Ministers Fatos Nano and his Italian counterpart, Romano Prodi, opened a major industrial exhibition in Tirana on 27 May. More than 200 Italian and Albanian companies are participating in the fair, which aims to promote the southern Adriatic as a commercial bridge to the Balkans. At a meeting with Italian businessmen, Privatization Minister Ylli Bufi said that Albania will lower duties on exports to attract new investors and to encourage production, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. FS
 ALBANIA TO STAGGER RETURN OF CRIMINALS FROM ABROADJustice Ministry Spokesman Agim Neza told Reuters on 27 May that Albania is prepared to take back all its citizens serving prison sentences abroad. He added, however, that the process will have to be staggered over an unspecified period owing to a severe shortage of prison space. Albania signed four conventions with the Council of Europe last week to ensure the repatriation of Albanians convicted abroad and the extradition of wanted criminals either to or from Albania. Mobs demolished most prisons during the 1997 unrest. FS
 ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES DRAFT ON SEXUAL EQUALITYThe government on 29 May approved a draft law on the equality of the sexes. Among other things, the law forbids "unwanted, unwelcome acts or scandalous behavior that affects one's personal dignity" and says that women who have not been promoted at work because of gender discrimination are entitled to compensation totaling three months' wages, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The law must still be approved by the parliament. In other news, former Foreign Minister Adrian Nastase said on his return from Strasbourg on 28 May that the Legal Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has unanimously recommended that Romania be removed from its special monitoring list. MS
 BULGARIA 'SURPRISED' BY HOLBROOKE STATEMENTForeign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova on 28 May said she is "surprised" by U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke's statement that Bulgaria might decide to "grab off a piece" of Macedonia. In an interview with Reuters on 27 May about his book, "The End of the War," Holbrooke said an "eruption" in Kosova could trigger a wider war and that "the Bulgarians claim that Bulgarians and Macedonians are indistinguishable." Mihailova told the BBC that Bulgaria was the first country to recognize Macedonia under its "constitutional name" of the Republic of Macedonia and has repeatedly shown it is helping solve problems in the region "rather than create them," an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. Foreign Minister spokesman Radko Vlaikov stressed that Bulgaria has no territorial claims on Macedonia. But he added that Sofia does not recognize Macedonian as a separate language but considers it a Bulgarian dialect. MS
[C] END NOTE
 KRAJINA SYNDROME: KOSOVA'S SERBSby Tim Judah
Until quite recently, Serbian students in the technical department of Prishtina University were still telling anyone who would listen that theirs was a struggle for Kosova, a struggle to the bitter end. Under the terms of Kosova's education agreement signed by the Serbian government and representatives of the province's Albanians the Serbs were due to hand over the building to the Albanians. A poster exhorted the police, whom it was feared would soon move to turf them out, to: "Follow your hearts, not your orders!"
A rally inside the building in mid-May brought together students and local Serbs. And despite the empty rhetoric of "no surrender," one word recurred over and over again: "Krajina," the name of the doomed would-be Serbian state in Croatia, which had been betrayed and swept from the map of history in August 1995. Within 48 hours the students were gone, evicted by the police, but not before they had rampaged through the building, destroying as much as they could.
The students were right about one thing. Their struggle was indeed highly symbolic of the struggle for Kosova. In the first place, they "occupied" the building as its sole tenants, as a result of the policies of Slobodan Milosevic, who rose to power a decade ago on the backs of the Kosova Serbs. And, now just like the Serbs of Krajina, whom Milosevic abandoned to their fate, the Serbs of Kosova have understood that they have been betrayed as well.
Many Serbs have, in fact, reluctantly concluded that Milosevic, now Yugoslav president, has simply decided to abandon the province. In Prishtina, frightened Serbs from outlying districts are moving in to the center to stay with friends and family clustered around the concrete symbols of Serbian power, especially the army and police headquarters.
In the countryside, in areas that have fallen under the control of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), those Serbs who did not flee in time are being chased out and told in no uncertain terms never to return. In a UCK- controlled part of the western Decan area, seven elderly Serbs are presumed dead after "disappearing". In the region as a whole there are now no more than 300 Serbs left living among 55,000 Albanians.
When Krajina fell in August 1995, the Croatian army swept some 200,000 Serbs in front of it. Of those, 16,000 were sent to live in schools and hotels and other collective centers in Kosova. At the time, there was much speculation as to whether this development was the spearhead of a new Serbian colonization drive in Kosova. But in fact, the presence of those Serbs has done more than anything else to shatter Serbian morale in the province.
With their laundry always flapping from their windows, the refugees are a constant reminder to the Kosova Serbs of the fate of a people who trusted in Milosevic. Although some Serbs still kid themselves that "Kosova is different" many now realize that the battle is lost.
Of course, there is some fighting. Some Albanian villages are burning and there are daily killings of Albanians by Serbs and vice versa. But on the Serbian side, these are rearguard actions. The Serbian police could reduce the whole of Kosova to ash and cinder within 24 hours, but what would be the point of that? Serbia's economy is in a truly parlous state, and relations with Montenegro are fraught. Another round of tough sanctions could bring the whole edifice crashing down and a militarily disastrous no- fly zone to boot. In such a case, better to avoid rash actions.
Over the last two years, the emergence of the Serbian Resistance Movement signaled some hope for the future. This group, though committed to retaining Kosova for Serbia, did call for real dialogue with Albanians and saw that Milosevic's policy was heading for disaster. Among its leading lights is Artemije, Orthodox bishop of Prizren and Raska. His right-hand man is the monk Brother Sava.
In the past couple of months the two men have been to Washington, France, and elsewhere to publicize their cause abroad. But now they are in despair. Bishop Artemije said recently: "The chances of a dialogue have been missed. What remains is what the gentlemen in Belgrade have chosen--the loss of Kosova, just like the Krajina, in war." Clearly, he has understood, like many Serbs, that Milosevic simply cannot give up Kosova outright; rather, to secure his own survival, he has to be seen to lose the province in war. In this way, he can blame everyone else for its loss, including the international community.
As for Brother Sava, he is now a virtual prisoner in his own monastery. The UCK roam the area at will. On 7 May, they shot at a van taking shift workers to a now closed nearby power plant, right outside the monastery door. The hills around are crawling with army and police, too; but at the checkpoint leading to the monastery, the police try to stop journalists visiting Sava, perhaps because of his anti- Milosevic stance. He has been reduced to communicating with the world by e-mail and especially in trying to fend off wild--and false--accusations in the Kosova Albanian press that Decan is playing host to Serbian paramilitaries.
Tim Judah is a free-lance journalist and the author of the recent book "The Serbs."
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty